South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act has formed part of email marketing for the past four years, since it came into effect in July 2020. The legislation enforces rigorous standards on how businesses handle personal information to protect privacy and ensure transparency. The downside of POPIA is its impact on direct marketing, the deliverability rates of emails, and the trust relationship between businesses and their clients. Here are some ways you can navigate the Act and ensure legal adherence.

POPI Act and Email Marketing

The POPI Act and Informed Consent

POPIA is intended to protect personal information processed by public and private bodies, and it applies to all forms of marketing. The legislation sets the conditions for how data should be responsibly handled to respect individuals’ rights to privacy. Regarding email marketing, respecting individuals’ rights to privacy includes obtaining explicit consent before sending out marketing emails.

The consent must be a voluntary, specific, and informed expression of will. Marketers must also provide an easy means for contacts to withdraw their consent at any time, ensuring transparency and respect for consumer preferences. Simply adding implied consent to the terms and conditions or your company’s privacy notice is insufficient. People must be able to explicitly tick a box or something similar that makes it obvious that the person is opting into your communications. You must also specify the type of communication they will receive and on what channel it will be communicated.

Without informed consent, marketers risk damaging the trust relationship between them and their recipients. Understanding and implementing the principles of POPIA enhances trust and credibility with recipients and helps align with legal standards. By ensuring compliance, businesses mitigate the risks of penalties and improve their reputation, making their email marketing efforts more effective and sustainable in the long run.

POPIA has changed the rules about consent for direct marketing, but how the marketer got the lead in the first place might be just as important.

Managing Unsubscribes an Essential Task

Under the POPI Act, managing unsubscribes becomes essential. POPIA mandates that individuals have the right to opt out of receiving marketing communications at any time, and businesses must honour these requests promptly. This means providing clear and accessible unsubscribe options in every marketing email, allowing recipients to opt out without unnecessary barriers or obstacles.

Additionally, marketers must maintain accurate unsubscribe lists and promptly remove contacts who have opted out from future marketing communications. Not adhering to POPIA when it comes to unsubscribes may lead to increased spam complaints and decreased deliverability rates. By contrast, honouring unsubscribe requests demonstrates respect for recipients’ privacy rights and fosters trust and goodwill, ultimately contributing to better engagement and deliverability metrics.

Everlytic’s software takes care of unsubscribe options for you by automatically adding unsubscribe links to all our email and SMS templates. As a business, we are fully POPIA and GDPR compliant.

Compliance Improves Your Business Reputation

Non-compliance regarding the POPI Act can severely damage a company’s sender reputation. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) monitor compliance with data protection laws, and any indication of non-compliance, such as sending emails without consent or ignoring unsubscribe requests, can lead to emails being flagged as spam. This can degrade deliverability across all campaigns.

One of the best ways to ensure that your emails don’t end up in someone’s spam folder is to implement a list-cleaning policy to remove unresponsive or disengaged recipients before your emails can be earmarked as spam. By not maintaining lists, senders risk damage to their reputation.

Earlier this year, Google and Yahoo also implemented changes to their email authentication protocols to enhance inbox security. These two platforms now require additional verification measures for those sending 5 000 or more bulk emails a day, and it can have a big impact on your email deliverability rates. To learn more about these changes and how you can ensure your bulk emails reach the intended inboxes, download our Email Deliverability Survival Guide.

Best Practices for POPIA Compliance in Email Marketing

Here are five  best practices that ensure alignment with POPIA standards, protect your business reputation, and keep your emails from turning into spam:

Transparent Consent Management: Always obtain explicit and informed consent before sending marketing emails. Clearly explain what recipients are signing up for and use double opt-in mechanisms to confirm their consent. An example of double-opt-in consent is when an individual receives a confirmation link in their inbox after the initial opt-in on a website.

Immaculate Record-Keeping: Maintain detailed records of how and when consent was obtained. This documentation is crucial for compliance and resolving any disputes or audits that may arise.

Regularly Update Lists: Frequently audit your email lists to remove unengaged subscribers and those who have opted out. This practice not only complies with POPIA requirements but also improves overall email performance by reducing bounce rates and enhancing engagement metrics.

Transparent Communication: Be clear and transparent regarding how personal data will be used. Provide easy-to-understand privacy policies and update them regularly.

Implement Privacy by Design: Design your marketing strategies with privacy as a foundational element. This means considering privacy at every stage of developing marketing tactics.

Follow these five proven tips to improve your bulk email deliverability and ensure that your bulk emails land in a legitimate inbox every time.

Understanding and Implementing POPIA at a deeper level

To deepen your understanding of the POPI Act, consider exploring the following options:

Official POPIA Text: Review the full text of the POPI Act to understand all legal requirements and provisions.

Industry Guides: Look for guides and whitepapers, like our Guide on How to Comply with POPIA without Killing your List, that provide industry-specific insights on navigating POPI compliance in marketing.

Data Protection Workshops: Attend workshops and seminars on data protection to stay updated on best practices and compliance strategies.

Legal Consultancy Services: Engage with legal experts specialising in data protection to ensure your marketing practices are fully compliant and optimised for performance.

Technology Solutions: Utilise software tools designed to aid in compliance, such as automated consent management and data security solutions. Everlytic’s software makes it easy for recipients to unsubscribe from lists and for you to manage your subscriber database.

A Guide to Navigating Compliance and Email Deliverability

Bulk email deliverability depends on a range of security and compliance processes working together in the background. Our Email Delivery Guide provides a more detailed picture of what this entails.